Pica doesn’t often occur in pregnancy. But it happens with enough frequency that it deserves mention. Pica is a powerful urge to eat things that offer the body no nutritional value. It involves cravings for non-food substances. These include sand, pebbles, and chalk.
Cravings during pregnancy are normal. One of the most common questions pregnant women face related to cravings they experience. They differ from woman to woman. Some women report different cravings when they’ve had multiple pregnancies. Pregnancy cravings are on the whole confined to food. A lot of women report craving pickles or ice-cream during pregnancy. Some report wanting to eat pickles with ice-cream! Cravings are interpreted as the body’s way of telling a woman something is lacking in her diet that her baby needs.
Pica is a different matter altogether. It’s not clear why some pregnant women develop pica. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association speculates that a lack of iron may trigger it. It may not only be iron that the body needs. Pica may be a symptom of a shortage of other vitamins or minerals in the body. This means the pregnant woman is not consuming them at all or is not getting enough in her diet. It’s possible, therefore, that pica in pregnant women can be managed with vitamin supplements and dietary changes.
It is advisable for women to report pica to their doctor so that treatment can be prescribed. That’s because eating non-food substances is not suitable for the expectant mother or her unborn child. Some of the substances ingested may contain toxic elements that are harmful. Chewing sugar-free gum may help to bring the cravings under control. An active support system of caring friends and families can help a pregnant woman with pica when the cravings set in.
20. Pimples or acne
Another frequent side effect of pregnancy that is hard to manage is acne. Outbreaks of pimples or severe acne are common during pregnancy. Up to 50% of women report pimples, acne, or skin blemishes on their faces. It’s usually at its worst during the first trimester. The higher hormone levels in the body are responsible. When girls reach puberty, they have a sudden upswing in hormonal activity.
That’s what causes many of them to have a pimple or acne outbreak on their faces. Well beyond puberty, many women report getting pimples or acne outbreaks when they menstruate. This is also what happens when a woman falls pregnant. Acne and pimples are the body’s response to these increased levels of female hormones.
The surge of hormones in the beginning stages of pregnancy cause the skin to produce more oils that it did before. This is what prompts the outbreaks. Women with a history of pimples or acne during adolescence or around the time of menstruation are far more likely to have flare-ups during pregnancy. If a woman doesn’t experience an episode of pimples or acne during her first trimester, it’s not likely she’ll have any problems during her second and third trimesters.
Acne is difficult to manage without the complication of pregnancy. Many of the treatments that can be obtained on prescription or over-the-counter are not regarded as safe for pregnant women. They bear the risk of causing birth defects. A pregnant woman should avoid any medicine that has the potential to harm her baby unless her doctor recommends it. This will only happen when medication is required to keep the expectant mother to stay alive. Acne and pimples do not fall within this category.
Expectant mothers should use natural remedies for a pimple and acne breakout. It’s uncomfortable and makes them feel self-conscious. But they should bear in mind that it will clear up in time.